It seems like such a good idea on the surface: a thick new Coupland in paperback (after all, you wouldn’t buy it in hardback, would you?), with the cute lego characters on the cover, and the “it’s almost like Microserfs but set in a game company this time” vibe.
But about halfway through, when you realize that two of the main characters have parents who grow marijuana for a living and a character named Douglas Coupland is going to play a pivotal role in the plot, you start to lose interest. But because you’re on vacation, and you can’t stand the thought of driving up the strip to the supersized Barnes & Noble to pick up a new read, you power through. And then, about three quarters of the way through, when he actually includes the first 100,000 digits of Pi in the text, you start to wonder “just where the hell was his editor?” and give up hope completely.
If there’s anything more ill-advised than blog posts from airport terminals, it has to be blog posts from actual airplanes. Nevertheless, here goes — my top ten wishes from 35,000 feet on a Wednesday afternoon.
1. I wish this plane had wifi. I’ve heard there’s nothing like pinging friends from 35,000 feet to tell them that you’re pinging them from 35,000 feet.
2. I wish this plane had a screen in the seatback in front of me showing one of those neat real time maps. But instead of showing progress at the state or nation-state level, it would show progress at street or near-street level, so that instead of having that “Wow, this flight is taking forever” feeling, you could have that “Holy shit we’re going incredibly fast” feeling. It almost goes without saying that this Holy Shit Map(tm) should be toggle-able between map, satellite and hybrid modes.
3. I wish that my non-existent seatback screen could also be used as a secondary monitor for my laptop, because then I could drag my non-existent IM conversations to that screen and focus my attention on this blog post, leaving my friends wondering if my network connection had gone dead due to excessive cloud cover.
4. I wish that this seat had more legroom. Actually, that’s a lie. I wish that this seat had more armroom, so that I could stretch out to type instead of sitting here contributing to my neverending parade of hand, wrist, arm, shoulder and back pains.
5. I wish I had Google right now, because I may have just coined the term “armroom” and I have no way to find out.
6. Speaking of armroom, I wish the guy next to me would realize that that armrest there between us is actually MINE, and that he should get his goddamn arm off of it already because he’s cramping my mad blogging-from-35,000-feet skillz.
7. I wish this plane had an armrest-powered community jukebox. I mean, Channel 9 is cool…if you’re into pilots and air traffic controllers. Instead I want to listen in on what that guy with the big headphones is bopping his head to over there in Seat 12D, or what the mother is using to to drown out her tweener kids back in 32F, or what the guy with $800 shoes in 2B is using to passive-aggressively ignore his so obviously botoxed traveling companion. Frankly, if it were up to me, to even plug your ears into an iPod you’d need to allow others on the plane to jack into what’s shuffling through your 1 or 2 or 30 or 60 gigs.
8. And then it wouldn’t it be nice if your seatback display would let you know that the person over there in 22C likes your musical selections and wishes to become your friend on Facebook or your professional contact on LinkedIn or your neighbor on Vox? And wouldn’t it be nice if you could cancel-or-allow directly from said seatback display?
9. I wish this plane had a better inflight movie than the “Diane Keaton at 60” vehicle they’re showing right now on the barely visible string of CRTs hanging above the aisle. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Diane Keaton at 60, mind you.) Of course, if I had that non-existent seatback display, then maybe I could order up something interesting. Like that documentary about Arial Helvetica.
10. But if I had one wish, it would be for the woman in front of me to bring her seat to the fully upright and locked position, so as not to crush my laptop display. After all, it’s the only display I’ve got right now.
It’s early morning, and I’m walking through the Southwest Florida International Airport, doing my best to ignore the piped in Muzak. But the task becomes impossible when a watered down version of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” comes on. It’s astonishing, but it is actually possible to water that song down.
I know there are a myriad of complicated licensing and performance rights issues that have brought us to the point where early morning travelers catch themselves singing “Don’t go changing to try to please me” in time with an anonymous female song stylist. But because I’m generally boring and single-tracked, I’m sitting here wondering what the online equivalent to Muzak is. F8? Widgets? RSS Readers? The mobile web? My Yahoo? The entire AOL experience? When we add value do we water down? You’ve gotta believe that the people programming the Muzak channels believe they’re doing Good Work, just like you.
Note to self: blog posts from airport terminals always seem like a good idea.